The image of Iran in Germany has made tremendous progress in the last years and I was looking forward to good weather, kind people and crazy Teheran underground parties. Already in the bus from the border to the next town, Tabriz, the girls started scrutinizing my instagram, checking for a girlfriend and questioning my modesty over shirtless pics from the beach. The time flew by and stopped rapidly when I was trying to check in at a cheap hotel, just to realize that my credit cards would not work, and would not work at all in Iran, and that I did not bring cash.
In a dark looking alley a nice looking guy helped me count the little cash I brought from Turkey, just enough for one night in the cheapest place. Money would soon become a real problem. And it took away the sense of security I felt. Trying all kinds of things I almost bought bitcoin. In the end all kinds of people would borrow me big packs on money, sending it to each other following my trail, until I could find way to repay them. “It is nothing. It is only money, not something important,” they said.
I spend a day with Couchsurfing trying to figure out this whole Ramadan thing, the islamic fasting month. In Iran it is law that everyone must not eat nor drink in public, between dawn and dusk, everbody does it anyway. The police can detain you for it, and everybody is nervous a neighbour could indict them.
Hitchhiking to Teheran felt like a real adventure. A turban, tough, is as ridiculous there as it is in Amsterdam. One guy brought me to the police, so they helped me get a new car and asked for a selfie.
In Teheran I set of to get a visa for Turkmenistan. I would have to cross the country to get to Uzbekistan, from where I had booked my flight. Day for day the sent me away. With no permission to go and no money to go anyway, I found myself sitting on the site walk once or twice, wondering if I would ever make it home.
Finally I managed to get a hold on enough cash and the Turkmens promised me I could pick up my Visa in Mashhad, in the north east of Iran, close to the border. So I spent a few days with some fun guys my age. A few of them are admitted to European universities and they loved shouting German curse words out the car. “Careful, there is quite a few Iranians that understand Sch*****.”
On the road again one men would not let me go on hitchhiking. He insisted on paying for my bus ticket, or driving me himself 700km, or giving me money to finish my trip properly, or at least come with me. I had to fight for him to just drop me at the highway, where his son stayed until I had another ride.
Finally in Mashhad, I would go to the consulate of Turkmenistan every day, asking for my Visa, afraid to miss my flight, while it was way too late to pick an alternative route….